Friday, September 30, 2011

On the simple life

I have always been a person who had a good understanding of the finite nature of life.  This deep knowledge that it's going by really fast and soon I'll be dead informs far more of my decisions than it might seem to the naked eye.

I know, that was probably the most depressing sentence I've ever written.  The most depressing sentence you've ever read.  Sorry.

When I made bad decisions as a teenager and young adult, it wasn't because I thought I was ten feet tall and bullet proof.  It wasn't because I thought I was untouchable or was going to live forever.  No, it was quite the opposite.  I did stupid things because, well, I wanted to LIVE.  I didn't want to regret not trying this or feeling that.  I didn't want to have a vacuum where my memories were supposed to be.

Now that I am old and (mostly) responsible, I don't feel the need to play out every scenario in order to be sure I am milking the most out of my minutes on earth.  But I do feel the need to measure everything very carefully.  To that end, I select my friends.  To that end, I select my job.  To that end, I balance my time between work and play.  I do a squaredance wherein I do-si-do with responsiblity, planning for the future, and doing the right thing, and then I bow to my let's have a lark partner, and then we promenade with love and rest and a good, homecooked meal.

Because I am so painfully (sometimes it takes my breath away) aware of the whisper of time I get to spend here, with the people I love and the places I adore, prioritizing is very very easy.  Do I want to work 65 hours a week?  Am I willing to work someplace hostile, if it's a really good paycheck?  No.  That is easy for me.  As long as we can adequately provide for the needs of the family, I don't much worry about my career.  Some  might say I'm lazy or I lack ambition, and maybe both of those things are true, but I don't really think so.  I think, if I do say so myself, that I have my priorities straight.

It has been a long and arduous process, coming to terms with the fact that I might not be on the career track I always imagined for myself as a young person.  It has also been a difficult task to awaken to the fact that I will likely never move from Lawrence, KS.  Would I like to have more diverse experiences, or maybe live in a better climate?  Yes.  But at the cost of living far away from the family and friends that make my life rich and delightful?  Not a chance.  Would like to say I have a high powered career, or a better wardrobe?  Absolutely, but not if it takes me away from said family and friends for too many hours a day, or makes me too stressed or cranky to enjoy them.  Too tired or busy to sit down and watch Sesame Street with my son, or read a book of my very own choosing.

It turns out, that because I feel the shortness of life with every breath I take, I've chosen a rather unglamorous one.  Which seems the opposite of what you'd think.  I read about people who learn they are ill or dying and go out on a wild "bucket list" ride - and maybe I'd do the same if I knew exactly how many days I had left...but I doubt it.  For me, the best life, the happiest and most satisfying one, at the end of the day, is the one that grew from deep roots.  It's the simple life, the one full of laughter, bonds, trust, and peace.

And with that knowlege, I kiss good-bye my thoughts of high rise apartments in New York City and my considerations of law school and power suits.  And I come back to work at my community hospital, and I cook for my family and friends, and I watch Sesame Street.  And that, my friends, doesn't seem like much, until you look back at twentythirtyfortyfifty years of it, and the richness of experience all of that simplicty has created, and no mountain climb or fancy vacationboatcarjewelryhousehighriseapartment can come close in comparison.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to get what you want and never even ask for it.

Me:  "Did you read my empanada column?"

Him: "Uhm. YEAH! Looks yummy! MMMMMMMMM."

Me:  "Why do you hate me?"

Him:  "What do you mean?"

Me: "Let's not play this game.  You never read my columns.  I work hard on that, it's our bread and butter, and you can't be bothered to read it.  Even though you spend approximately four hours a day on the internet."

Him: "I do.  I skim."

Me: "If I were Picasso, would you SKIM my work?  If I were Feist, would you 'half listen' to my new single?"

Him: *rolls eyes*

Me: See? You hate me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Change, sometimes, is good.

Next weekend, we plan to close the pool.

It's bittersweet.  It's been the Summer Made of Awesome.  Parties, quiet outdoor dinners, practicing dives, sunning arms, and paddling with Johnny.  It's all been magical.

But the weather is getting crisp and my internal clock says it's time to shut 'er down.   Time to move on.  Time for something different.  We've been getting cozy with our basement, and the new tv therein.  We've watched more movies in the last two weeks than we have in the last six months.  I'm fantasizing about making the perfect man cave.  I guess that means it's fall.  And I am ready.

Often, usually in the winter as he scrapes a foot of snow off of his car, my husband rhetorically asks WHY WE STILL LIVE IN KANSAS.

This is why.  The crackle of the first cool night, the first sun of May on your shoulders, the beauty of the first silent snowfall of the year.

Yes, eventually it all gets old.  It's too hot for too long.  It's too snowy and wet.  The cars are dirty and the leaves have to be raked - again.  So sometimes Kansas is hard.  But it is worth it for the first weeks of each season when you start thinking of a new kind of cooking, planning a different kind of party, putting on clothes that have been in storage for half the year.  Before you're tired of sweaters and coats, before you're out of firewood and too tired to cut more, before your skin is chapped from bracing wind, the season change is so lovely, I could cry.

Changing seasons bring different smells, they evoke childhood memories, and bring with them plans and inspiration.  This year, for us, fall means walking into our back yard sans sunscreen to play in the yard with toys instead of in the pool.  It means, hearing the KU marching band practicing in a nearby field.  It means soups and pastas and hot dinners and a friend or two and a bottle of Chianti.

Lovely Lawrence, Kansas.  As my neighbor said today, "Even an ordinary weekend in Lawrence is extraordinary."  Here's to an extraordinary Lawrence fall.